The Buffalo Bills are getting set for the final five games of the 2020 NFL season, which will see Buffalo playing in three prime-time games. It all starts on Monday night when the Bills will travel to Glendale, Arizona to take on the San Francisco 49ers at State Farm Stadium.
Prime-time games have been a bit of an issue for the Bills over the past several years, especially on Monday nights, where Buffalo has gone 1-8 in Monday games since 1999. The last win for the Bills on a Monday game came back in the 2014 season when the NFL had to move their Week 12 matchup with the New York Jets to a Monday in Detroit, Michigan after the "Snovember" storm that buried Orchard Park in feet of snow.
The last Monday Night Football game the Bills won came back in 1999, when they defeated the Miami Dolphins, 23-18 in South Florida.
Heading into Monday's meeting with the 49ers, the Bills sit atop the AFC East at 8-3 and remain one game ahead of the Dolphins, who will match up with the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday. A win for the Bills this week would put the team at 9-3 for a second consecutive season, and guarantee them a third season of .500 football or better in four years.
However, Monday's game will not be a cakewalk for the Bills as San Francisco comes in at 5-6 on the season and still in the hunt for a playoff spot in the NFC. Although the 49ers have been battered and bruised over the course of the 2020 campaign, the team is still fighting strong after a huge 23-20 win this past week over the Los Angeles Rams.
Despite no Nick Bosa, Soloman Thomas, Dee Ford, George Kittle or Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers have found multiple ways to stay in games throughout the year under a strong coaching staff led by head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott is very familiar with Shanahan, as he went up against him for a couple of years in a competitive NFC South. At the time, McDermott was the defensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers, while Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.
McDermott took some time on Friday to join the Howard and Jeremy Show as part of his weekly appearance on Buffalo Bills Football Friday. He spoke about going up against Shanahan this week, while also discussing what it means to be playing in prime-time multiple times at the end of the season.
Here is some of what he had to say:
McDermott on the turnaround of his defense:
"I think we're trending in the right direction. Obviously still a lot of work to do, but when you look at it, I thought we played out best game as an overall defense [against the Chargers], for sure."
"We're still working on a number of things, but new pieces, short offseason, new defensive line coaches. There's a lot of factors and variables that you can point to [for our slow start]."
McDermott on facing Shanahan's offense in San Francisco:
"Kyle's an outstanding coach. One of the best coaches in our league, and he took his team to the Super Bowl a year ago. This will be a big challenge for us. He does a great job of creating different ways, new ways and exciting ways of running the football. He's a real trend-setter, as far as that goes."
McDermott on the challenge of facing the 49ers defense:
"Obviously they lost [Nick] Bosa, but this is a team and a defense that's been put together by numerous first round picks since Kyle and [general manager] John Lynch got there. They're a very talented roster, and that remains the case. Their defense, led by [defensive coordinator] Robert Saleh, has done a great job. They've got [Richard] Sherman on the perimeter with [safety] Jimmie Ward back there, who does a great job. They've got a front that can still rush, so they're a very talented group still and they're playing at a high level."
McDermott on Cole Beasley's presence in the offense:
"Just from a coaching standpoint, he's a coach's dream. He comes from a football family, his dad was a coach, he's played different positions coming up that are key positions, and he just understands the game. He gets it, and that's important for a coach. The instincts, the intangibles; he's just a coach's dream in that way, and we're thankful to have him."
McDermott on playing in prime time games:
"When you're playing 1 p.m. games, I think there's a routine part of it, which is nice. There's nothing better than playing at home on a 1 o'clock afternoon and being able to get home [afterwards] to spend time with their families. ... With that said, though, this is what you want. This is how we built the program to be. The better you get, the more prime time games you have. I think it's an exciting time for our fanbase. We'll be getting back Tuesday morning about 6 a.m. and try to get ready on a short week for the [Pittsburgh] Steelers a week from now, and then after that, no week is really the same.
"When you get to a point where you're respected by the league and you've got a good club, that's what you work for, and that's what you get. I think that's exciting for our organization and our fans."
You can listen to the entire interview below: